On this page, the Voice‘s news team will provide the latest information about COVID-19 as it pertains to Georgetown. This story is ongoing, and this post will be updated.
May 24: Summer housing offered
Georgetown has offered free transition housing to students currently on campus through June 1, and will then allow students to stay on campus for a discounted rate through the remainder of the summer, according to a university spokesperson. The university expects a little over 100 students to remain on campus. Both graduated seniors and continuing students will be allowed to live in dorms for $1,500 through Aug. 8, when housing will transition to prepare for the fall semester, according to a May 4 email obtained by the Voice.
The university originally asked students to pay $3,850 to remain on campus for the summer, according to an April 30 email obtained by the Voice. That price was discounted to $1,500 on May 4 due to “serious concerns” expressed by students about inability to pay, according to a second email. Students can now opt to stay until July 4 at a cost of $750.
The full story can be found here.
May 21: Options for the fall discussed by administration
University administrators provided updates to GUSA leaders in a meeting on May 21. The administrators reported that housing selection for the fall will be postponed from its scheduled June 1 date. Additionally, the administrators expressed hope that a concrete decision on the status of the fall semester will be made by the end of June.
While no specific policies were confirmed, administrators also revealed discussions they’ve had when it comes to shaping the fall semester. All policies implemented will follow public health guidelines to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, including introducing a contact tracing program, reducing the number of students on campus, and providing coronavirus testing.
Based on American College Health Association recommendations, Georgetown has discussed limiting on-campus housing to one student per room. According to Vice President of Student Affairs Todd Olsen, this limits the number of students living on campus at 2,900 students compared to the over 5,000 undergraduates who lived in Georgetown-owned or affiliated housing this past academic year.
While there are no plans currently in place to determine which students will be able to return to campus, the administration is focused on prioritizing students with difficult family circumstances as well as incoming freshmen.
Furthermore, any return in the fall will include drastic alterations to the classroom setting. In-person classes will likely be limited at 30% of traditional capacity to ensure social distancing, and technology upgrades will be required in classrooms to accommodate students who are unable to attend in person.
In accordance with D.C. guidelines requiring all institution educations to file reopening plans, the University hopes to announce a concrete decision on the status of the fall semester by the end of June.
Alice Gao contributed to this report.
May 18: Face coverings required on campus
All employees, students, and visitors on Georgetown’s D.C. campuses will be required to wear face coverings until further notice, Provost Robert Groves announced in a university-wide email on May 18. This new ruling, according to the email, is in accordance with D.C.’s May 13 extension of the public health emergency that requires face coverings for all individuals in business operations where social distancing cannot be adhered to.
On-campus, individuals will be required to wear masks or other face coverings unless they are alone in a room with a closed door or in a private vehicle. This includes buildings, grounds, residence spaces, and GUTS buses. Children under two are exempted. Any person not following the guidelines can be asked to leave, and employees and students could be subject to disciplinary action.
Those who cannot wear a face mask and wish to seek a disability-related accommodation can request one from the Academic Resource Center. Those who wish to seek an accommodation due to their inclusion in a protected category can do so through the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity and Affirmative Action.
May 15: Mayor Bowser extends D.C. lockdown, charts path to reopening
On May 13, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced D.C.’s stay-at-home order and public health emergency have both been extended through June 8. The decision is part of a plan headed by the advisory group ReOpen D.C. to gradually reopen the city.
“The continued sacrifices by residents and businesses are saving lives and helping us get to the other side of this incredibly difficult time for our city,” Bowser said. “Together, by staying home a little longer, soon we will be able to reopen D.C.; safely and sustainably.”
ReOpen D.C. was introduced by Bowser on April 23, when she first announced the city’s plans to begin a phased reopening. The group emphasizes four central values in evaluating how to best reopen D.C.: health, opportunity, prosperity, and equity. “We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reopen our city in a way that builds a more equitable D.C. and we should not let this opportunity pass us by,” she said.
The full story can be found here.
May 12: Graduate students call for expanded university response
Georgetown graduate students, along with faculty and alumni, have signed on to an open letter calling on the university for an adequate response to aid graduate students who are in dire need. The letter includes written statements from Master’s and Ph.D. students about how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected their ability to pay for healthcare, afford rent, and find employment over the summer.
In particular, many international students, who are prohibited from working off-campus and cannot return home, wrote about their difficult and uncertain situations. Graduate students have argued that the university’s Graduate Student Covid Relief Fund, which is valued at $35,000 and gives selected applicants a maximum of $500, is inadequate. The letter calls for an expanded relief fund for graduate students who have lost summer jobs, increased on-campus employment opportunities, an extended year of funding for Ph.D. students on service stipends, and greater graduate student input in the decision-making process.
May 10: Students ask for updates, inclusion on decision to reopen campus
GUSA asked student leaders be informed of and included in conversations about whether Georgetown will begin classes in person in the fall in a letter sent to university administrators and posted on their social media on May 10. The letter requests that all potential plans for the fall semester be shared with student leaders or the student body as a whole for input. The letter also stresses the potential impacts a continuation in virtual learning could have on marginalized students, arguing it is crucial for students to have as much information as possible ahead of a decision.
GUSA asked for the university to respond with outlines of any potential plans for the fall semester by May 15th at 5 p.m.
May 8: Georgetown to distribute CARES Act funding
Georgetown will be accepting the just over 6 million in funding it was eligible for as part of the CARES act and distributing half of it to students, the university announced on May 8. Undergraduate students with an expected family contribution below $15,000 each year will receive a grant of $2,600. An additional $300,000 of the money has been set aside to aid graduate students. The university hopes to distribute the money by May 15.
The full story can be found here.
May 5: Community cases hits 47, class of 2020 to be honored
As of May 4, 47 members of the Georgetown community have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to Georgetown’s daily coronavirus update. There remain no active cases on Georgetown’s campus.
University President John DeGioia announced in an email that the Georgetown community will come together virtually on May 16 to recognize the class of 2020. This will largely not be taking the place of a commencement ceremony, which has been postponed to a later date for most schools. The School of Medicine will be having a virtual commencement on May 17 due to “the nature of their roles and responsibilities over the coming year,” according to the email.
In conjuction with a virtual event, DeGioia added that a website will be launched on May 11 to include multimedia presentations celebrating the class of 2020.
April 13: Study abroad programs beginning before August 1 suspended
The Office of Global Education has suspended all study abroad programs beginning before Aug. 1, per an email from Craig Rinker, director of global education. According the email, Georgetown senior leadership intends to make a final decision on all fall study abroad programs by Friday, May 29. All students impacted by this decision are able to apply to another fall study abroad program beginning after Aug. 1 or push their study abroad until the spring semester or further. For any student who will now be on campus in the Fall, they should participate in registration and the housing selection process.
April 6: Georgetown community cases reach 30; financial and accesibility resources announced
According to Georgetown’s daily coronavirus update, 30 members of the university community are confirmed to be diagnosed with COVID-19 as of April 6. These cases are self-communicated to the university.
Additionally, the university has made several announcements in recent days. Georgetown is providing parking spaces to MedStar Georgetown employees, and discounted hotel rooms and on-campus apartments to residents and fellows who have challenging home accommodations. According to Provost Robert Groves, this comes out to 175 undergraduate students and 110 law students who have been approved to stay on campus due to extenuating circumstances.
The Student Health Center and Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS) are continuing to provide virtual services. During the COVID-19 pandemic, CAPS is waiving all fee-for-service charges. The university has also suspended all financial penalties and collection actions with respect to the spring 2020 semester, according to David Green, Georgetown chief financial officer. The university will not be forgiving unpaid charges, Green wrote in the announcement.
According to Randy Bass, vice provost for education, the university has also updated accessibility resources in recent days. “Over the past two weeks, a collaboration of students from Georgetown Disability Alliance, staff from the Academic Resource Center, Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship, University Information Services and the Office of Equity and Inclusion have worked together to identify the most pressing accessibility problems emerging in our virtual learning environments and gather a set of resources to respond to them,” Bass wrote in the update. These resources are currently available to faculty and will be rolled out to students on Canvas next week.
April 2: University announces revised grading system for the spring semester
Students will have the option to take their classes for a letter grade or a grading category (satisfactory, credit, or no credit) this semester, Provost Robert Groves announced in an email on April 2. This policy differs from the previous one in place by creating the category of credit, which students who earn a C-, D+ or D in a class could opt-in to.
This change follows pushes by students for a double-a grading system, a proposal for which was denied by the Council of Deans. The email said this announced policy was “the final decision on the grading policy for the Spring 2020 semester.”
Students who choose to not display a letter grade on their transcript will receive an S/CR/NC accompanied by a notation explaining the grading system. The new system can be used in any class, including major and minor requirements. Students can elect to opt-in to the non-letter grade framework from April 6 until the last day of classes.
March 27: Summer classes moved online
All Georgetown summer classes will be conducted virtually, according to a university-wide email from Provost Robert Groves. The university is still working to determine whether camps and summer programs that occur on Georgetown’s campus will move forward.
March 25: Summer study abroad programs canceled
Georgetown summer study abroad programs have been suspended, according to an email sent to all program participants by the Office of Global Education. Alternative academic activities for students who were to participate in summer study abroad programs would be provided, and application fees would be refunded, according to the email.
The email also signaled an upcoming announcement regarding all university-sponsored summer programs. This is part of a university-wide decision to suspend university-sponsored programs and activities requiring in-person presence and travel during the summer term, a formal announcement of which is forthcoming from the Office of the Provost,” it read.
March 24: Georgetown community cases reach 14
According to the university’s daily digest, 14 total cases of COVID-19 in the Georgetown community have been reported. These cases were self-reported by the community member. This number includes two faculty members, three students that had been studying abroad, and nine students who had been on main campus between March 6 and March 16.
March 21: Georgetown staff member tests positive for COVID-19
A Georgetown staff member who was most recently on campus on March 16 has tested positive for COVID-19, per an university-wide email from Chief Public Health Officer Vince WinklerPrins. The individual is at their permanent residence and in good condition. Those who may have been in contact have been notified by the university.
March 20: Georgetown student on campus this semester tests positive for COVID-19
In an email to the Georgetown community, Chief Public Health Officer Vince WinklerPrins announced that a student who was living on campus tested positive for COVID-19 after falling ill on March 15. The student, who lives in a single, has not been on campus since March 12. Further confirmed cases will be posted on the Covid-19 Resource Center.
The student’s parents, before they learned of the test results, were on campus March 19. According to WinklerPrins, they had limited contact with anyone on campus, and all relevant areas are being disinfected.
In the same email, the university announced they would be closing Leavey Center and the Healey Family Student Center at 9 p.m. tonight. Lauinger Library is proposing to reduce access to the building.
March 19: Georgetown teacher tests positive for COVID-19
In an email to the Georgetown community, Chief Public Health Officer Vince WinklerPrins announced that a Georgetown individual who was last on campus on March 2 has tested positive for coronavirus. The patient, who teaches on the main campus, experienced symptoms after the school’s transition to online courses, and is currently being treated at their permanent residence. According to the email, the Montegomery County Department of Health and Human Services is working to identify and contact anyone at risk due to exposure to the individual.
WinklerPrins wrote that the school anticipates more cases of COVID-19 amongst Georgetown community members in the coming weeks. The university is also sending out a daily coronavirus email update with all the most up-to-date news from the school.
March 18: University to delay commencement until safe to hold in person
Commencement ceremonies for the class of 2020 will be postponed until they can safely be held on campus, the university announced in an email on March 18. The email stated that they would continue to update students and families on the new details of the event, giving them time to prepare for the ceremony before it is held.
“Commencement provides all of us with a way to gather to recognize the achievements of our students and their contributions to the life of our community,” the email read.
This announcement followed the circulation of two petitions urging for the delay, both of which have over 1000 signatures at the time of publication.
March 17: University asks students to move out by March 22, petition circulates to delay commencement
Students should move out by March 22 to avoid disruptions to their move-out plans, according to an email sent March 17 by Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Geoff Chatas and Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson. Students who can move out earlier should do so, according to the email. This change to move-out, which was supposed to end on March 29 is due to changing federal and state regulations in light of the designation of the virus as a pandemic.
Students who have been approved to remain on campus will be notified by March 20. 1400 students applied to stay.
If students cannot get their belongings before the 22nd, the university will store their belongings until August move-in through a storage partner. The email did not say whether the university would pay for the storage.
All on-campus dining locations will switch to to-go only options to comply with the new D.C. guidance prohibiting dine-in establishment.
Two petitions have begun circulating in support of postponing the commencement ceremony for the class of 2020, rather than canceling it or holding it virtually. The petition for seniors and parents currently has 493 signatures. The school-wide one has 443.
March 16: Administrators promise continued Federal Work-Study, salaries for on-campus workers
University administrators committed to continue paying students federal work-study for the rest of the semester in a March 16 call with students, including GUSA President Nico Ferretti (SFS ’21) and Vice-president Bryce Badger (MSB ’21). Students may be asked to work remotely, but all will receive payment regardless of whether that is possible for their job.
On-campus workers, including student workers, will continue to be paid and non-student employees will retain their jobs, according to Badger and Ferretti, and administrators promised to prioritize the health of those workers that remain on campus.
The university also informed the students on the call that around 3400 students have already moved out and 1400 have requested to remain on campus.
Move out refunds will be issued for the period beginning March 16 through the rest of the semester. They will be released once the exact amounts are figured out for each financial aid package, according to Badger.
This post has been updated to reflect that on-campus student workers will continue to be paid.
March 15: University to close Yates, offer move-out resources
In a March 15 email, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Geoff Chatas announced Yates Field House will be closed beginning March 16 until further notice.
The email also outlined measures the university would be taking in the next two weeks to aid the move-out process. This includes offering meals free of charge at Leo’s to students and family, free parking in university garages, and a limited number of boxes and packing materials in LXR Lounge/Multi-Purpose Room; McCarthy Hall; McShain Lounge; and the Arrupe Hall Multi-Purpose Room.
Chatas also wrote that Campus Ministry, CAPS, and the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program would continue to operate as resources.
March 15: Georgetown student diagnosed with COVID-19 was studying abroad in Copenhagen
According to an email obtained by the Voice, the student diagnosed with coronavirus was studying abroad in the DIS Copenhagen program. University Chief Public Health Officer Vince WinklerPrins sent the email to inform other students in the Copenhagen program of the patient’s diagnosis. He also advised that students returning from the program follow Center for Disease Control guidelines on self-quarantining and monitoring potential symptoms.
March 15: Georgetown community member diagnosed with COVID-19
In a March 15 email, Georgetown Chief Public Health Officer Vince WinklerPrins announced that a Georgetown student has been diagnosed with coronavirus. The student has been studying abroad and has not been on campus this semester, and is currently at their permanent residence receiving treatment.
According to the email, the patient’s program traced their contact with other Georgetown community members and determined that no other members of the study abroad program require testing. The university will contact all other students in the program to notify them of the diagnosis.
The email also promised to continue to update the school’s COVID-19 Resource Center, and looked to the future as the virus continues to spread.
“In line with the national trajectory, we anticipate there will be other members of the Georgetown community who are diagnosed with COVID-19 in the days ahead,” WinklerPrins wrote.
March 14: GERMS to remain out of service indefinitely
In a statement, Georgetown Emergency Response Medical Service (GERMS) announced that the group will remain out of service indefinitely. In the statement, GERMS wrote that it would be challenging to continue operations without undergraduate staff members on campus. The notice advised students with flu-like symptoms to follow Center for Disease Control guidance, and to contact 911 in case of a medical emergency.
March 14: University announces new measures to ease student transition to online courses
In an email to the student body on March 14, University Provost Robert Groves announced new plans intended to “increase flexibility for students and support the learning environment.” The email outlined three measures intended to aide the transition to virtual courses.
Georgetown will offer all undergraduate students the option to take their classes pass/fail for the rest of the semester. Students must choose the pass/fail option before the last day of classes, and a formal policy will be published soon.
The school will also extend the withdrawal deadline to the last day of classes, giving students more time to choose whether to continue with courses. The previous deadline was April 14.
Finally, Groves announced guidelines his office will give to faculty as students adjust, including offering excused absences for those who miss class through March 30 for issues related to housing or technological transistions, postponing tests and assignments planned for the week of March 16-20, and recognizing issues with Internet access and time zone alterations.
Groves also acknowledged challenges in the abrupt transition in housing and learning plans. He wrote that beginning virtual classes by March 16 would allow the semester to finish as scheduled.
“Let us give each other the gift of assuming good will in a difficult situation,” the email read. “We will be patient, we will be flexible, and we will never forget to listen to each other in the spirit of Georgetown: cura personalis.”
March 14: Student response team sends letter to the university demanding an extended spring break, petitions circulate
A newly formed student group called the Student Advocates for COVID-19 Response sent a letter to University President John DeGioia via email late on March 13. The letter asks that spring break is extended until March 29, the last day to move out, to give students time to gather belongings without worrying about academics. The group, which has more than 500 members in their group chat, also asked the university to provide subsidized short-term storage options, emergency financing, and travel grants, and to provide moving services for high-risk students.
Their last demand was that the university is entirely transparent in all future communications. “Student Advocates for COVID-19 Response is asking for Georgetown University to reassert its commitment to the student body by being decisive, considerate, and proactive in its decision-making process while moving forward,” the letter read.
The response team expects a response by Sunday.
Students have also created two change.org petitions regarding the university response. The first, advocating for students to opt in to taking class pass/fail this semester, has over 2200 signature at the time of publication. The other, asking for spring break to be extended until March 23, has 920.
March 13: The Corp to offer storage for remainder of the spring semester
The Corp will offer pop-up storage for the spring 2020 semester, with orders beginning on March 13. All items will be stored until the beginning of the fall semester, and unavailable for pickup until the end of the summer. Students can drop off items through March 29 from 1o am to 6 pm in the Arrupe Multipurpose room, the LXR lounge, and the McShain Large Multipurpose room.
Though the Corp’s storage will not be free, U-Haul announced on March 12 that they will provide free storage to college students suddenly forced to move amidst the crisis.
March 13: University announces online classes for remainder of semester, move-out plans
In a university-wide email, University President John DeGioia announced that Georgetown will continue to conduct courses online through the remainder of the spring semester, including final exams. Students will receive information about move-out procedures in the coming days, with the process slated to end by March 29. DeGioia cited increasing transmission of the disease and concern over community spread as factors in the university’s decision.
The email also promised plans to prorate room and board for students moving out of their residence halls, ensuring that they are not charged for the days they are not utilizing housing or meal plans. Students will be allowed to apply to remain on campus, though they may not be allowed to stay in their current residence.
The email also urged undergraduates who live off-campus to return to their permanent residences. Plans for commencement remain under review.
What we know so far:
- D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser declared a state of emergency on March 10, a move that allows her to more easily request federal disaster funding, implement quarantines, and prevent price gouging. More than two dozen cases have been confirmed in D.C., and at least one patient is being treated at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital (MGUH).
- On March 11, Georgetown announced that the school will move to virtual courses, which will be administered until further notice. Students were strongly encouraged to return to their permanent addresses, though the campus planned to remain open.
- The Department of Performing Arts announced that all productions for the remainder of the semester have been cancelled on March 12.
- Spring sporting events and practices are cancelled for the remainder of the season, according to a March 13 email.
Annemarie Cuccia, Roman Peregrino, and Katherine Randolph contributed to this report
Image Credits: Deborah Han